Welcome back to this week’s edition of Tuesday Tales, the weekly blog where scenes in current manuscripts are added based on a word or picture prompt.
I would like to thank everyone who nominated Sworn to Protect for Kindle Scout. Unfortunately, they’ve opted not to publish the book. Oh well, that’s two down. I get to try again. For those who liked the story, Sworn to Protect will be available soon.
This week, our word is PURPLE.
Surfacing, Paul got his bearings, and with the ship at his back, headed for the last place he’d seen MJ.
He cut through the surprisingly rough water, much more turbulent than it had been moments ago, swimming faster than he had ever before, lifted by each rising wave, watching for MJ’s head, and letting terror fill him when he was in a trough and lost sight of her.
Some guy had tried to save her? Bullshit! More than likely, Mark had helped her overboard and when he got back to the ship, and MJ admitted she’d been pushed, Paul would know exactly who to blame. This was attempted murder. No man’s pride should be worth another’s life.
The lifeboat was closing in on MJ’s position as was he, but she seemed to take longer to come up each time. He was within ten feet of her when she went down and didn’t surface again.
Diving deeper, he opened his eyes, ignoring the burn of the salt water. As always when underwater without a mask, everything was fuzzy and distorted, but the water was amazingly clear. He looked below him into the darker depths and saw her drifting down, a strange iridescent purple shadow beneath her, almost as if it was supporting her. His eyes had to be playing tricks on him.
Fear unlike anything he’d ever felt before filled him, cramping his muscles. She had to be lifeless to keep descending that way, but it didn’t look like she was sinking. It was more as if she were being borne deeper into the water by the strange purple glow under her. The deeper she went, the harder it was for him to see her.
Surfacing to catch his breath, he forced himself back under, kicking powerfully to follow her down. Where was she? Moments ago, she’d been directly under him. Striking out with every ounce of strength he had, he headed deeper until he saw her, hovering over a dark, oddly-shaped reef. Lungs burning, he forced himself to kick harder until he reached out to her. Her eyes were open, her lips curved into a smile.
The mauve luminescence vanished, and with it all sign of life on MJ’s face. Her eyes closed and her mouth gaped open, admitting the killing water into her lungs.
Paul kicked hard to propel himself and MJ upward. How long before brain damage was irreversible? He had to get her out of the water in time. If she didn’t survive this … Breaking the surface just a few feet from the lifeboat, he grasped the life ring someone tossed to him and supported MJ on it.
She was limp, so pale that her skin was almost translucent. Her blond curls, now straight strings of hair, trailed down into the water beneath her.
The vessel reached them, and Paul lifted MJ into the basket they lowered over the side. As soon as she was aboard, he climbed the ladder, collapsing as he entered the boat.
MJ lay on the deck. Paul hurried to her side.
“Monsieur, you did well to save her, but let the médical look after her,” the fisherman who’d helped him aboard said, wrapping Paul in a blanket. “How do you feel?”
Paul glanced over at MJ. How did he feel? As if the best part of him was being torn from him as each second passed.
“I’m fine,” he lied, ignoring the searing pain in his leg, the agonizing ache in his lungs, and the acidic burning in his eyes, as he watched for the rise and fall of her chest.
One of the sailors handed him a wet cloth. “Pour tes yeux,” he said. “I can see how sore and red they are.”
Paul accepted the cloth, and pressed it to his eyes, the soothing coolness relieving some of the stinging.
“She isn’t breathing,” he said as tears dribbled down his cheeks.
“Je le sais,” the médical answered as he began CPR.
With each breath and compression, MJ remained the same, and Paul’s heart ached more. This was his fault. He shouldn’t have suggested the fishing trip. And leaving her side even for a second with that bastard Mark aboard had been beyond stupid. He shivered not from cold but from fear. He’d been down on himself when Fiona died, but if MJ didn’t make it, there would be no coming back from this pain.
If there really was Quimbois magic around here, now would be a good time for it to do its job. His heart’s desire? That certainly wouldn’t be MJ’s death.
Fighting to obey instructions and let the man do his job, Paul sat where the fisherman had left him. How long had it been? Seconds? Minutes? The medic raised his head. He couldn’t be quitting.
“Don’t stop! For God’s sake, don’t quit,” he cried.
“C’est fait. C’est bon.” The medic leaned back on his heels.
MJ’s body spasmed, and she coughed up water.
Unable to sit still a second longer, Paul rushed to her side once more and pulled her up into his arms, holding her as she spit up more water and her body convulsed once more.
“I’ve got you,” he said, holding her tightly, raining kisses down on the side of her face and on her head. “Don’t ever scare me like that again.”
MJ looked up into his eyes, her own filled with wonder. “Did you see her? She was so beautiful,” she said. “I would never imagined it could be like that?”
He frowned. “See who?”
“The mermaid, the one who called me into the water to follow her.”
Mermaid? She had to be hallucinating. Had there been brain damage?
“Honey, I didn’t see anything.” That wasn’t true, he’d seen the weird purple glow. “Can you tell me what happened? Were you pushed?” He couldn’t keep the fury from his words.
She blinked. “Pushed? No. I saw her tail fluke—it was the most incredible shade of purple. I leaned over the side for another look, and she reached up and pulled me into the water.”
Paul noted the raw, red bump on her forehead. How had he not noticed it before? She must’ve hit her head when the ship lurched and then fallen overboard—or been pushed. He wasn’t about to let Mark off the hook just yet. A mermaid? She had to be delusional. He ignored his own memory of a strange purple shadow.
“We’ll talk about this later. For now, just rest.”
MJ smiled weakly. “I am really tired.” She closed her eyes.
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